These things heard alot during the winter. "THEY ARE NOT GOING TO REPEAT" No shit Sherlock, a safe bet as the last NL team to win back to back championships were the great 1970's Reds--40 years ago before free agency made it harder to keep a team together.
Through it all the Giants have a BETTER chance to win it all than they did at the start of 2010. The only team that has a better chance than they do right now, IMO, are the Boston Red Soxs. Note: I don't blindly support my team, and felt that the Giants had no chance 2 years ago. I wrote in emails to baseball friends back east that the Giants had the WORST offense in memory. Last year, I was a bit more kind before the start of the season:
"The Giants will finish 1st this year--yep first baby. They will lead the league by alot--on days players on the disabled list. Huff-Sanchez-DeRosa--they'll be lucky getting two of three playing at the same time." (3/11/2010)
As it turned out Huff is a stud--he scored over 100 runs, ran the bases with aplomb, and played at any position the Giants needed. Sanchez came back from injury and must be the streakiest singles hitter ever--the former batting champ got red hot when the Giants needed him the most and played incredible defense. DeRosa's season never really began.
"Giant have slightly better hitting but worse fielding than last year, fragility high, and can't exepct long relievers to have great season like last year (note: they did, but they were different long relievers.) Best thing would be for them to play Buster Posey regularly, 4x a week at firstbase and 2x a week at catcher. Not like he is taking at bats away from Willie McCovery/ Bill Terry...in any event SF for the wild card. (3/29/2010)
In 2011 the Giants had DEEPEST pitching staff I ever recall, and the putt-putt offense was totally revamped by the end of the year (secret: they had the MOST road home runs of any NL team, with 15 more than the mighty Phillies.) The Giants offense by the middle of 2010 much different than their offense from 2007-2010 when Matt Cain suffered with the major's worst offenseive support (3.72 runs per game.) The nadir of 2010 season was in late May when the Giants got swept by the A's--scoring a whole 1 run in 3 games. A reconstituted Giants team returned the favor a month later, scoring 17 runs in 3 games, Through it all the Giants showed the rare fortitude to bench their big $$$ stars if not performing. Not to many oher teams do that. So what is the Giants upside in 2011:
1. Pablo Sandoval, their best (only) hitter in 2009 had a bad year in 2010. With his better winter conditiong he should improve. (To a lesser extent, after poor conditioning ruined Tim Lincecum's August, he got serious and wouldn't have a disasterous month this year if he avoids arm problems.)
2. They didn't have Buster Posey or Madison Bumgarner until a third of the season has passed. Andres Torres started off as a spot player. Cody Ross on offense and shut down relievers Javier Lopez and Ramon Ramirez weren't on the team until the 2nd half of the season. Now all these guys ready to go from day 1.
3-Mark DeRosa was out for the year.
4-After a half dozen years of having turkey position players in the minors, they (Posey) was the best rookie of the year in a decade, and they have another minor league hitter, Brandon Belt, that has great promise.
5-No mass panic by the local radio--even Giants flagship early last season when Cousin Bruce wanted the Giants to trade trade trade Matt Cain for hitting and Amechi's Ralph wanted the Giants to move in the right field fences (that psych out other teams) to improve their hitting.
So the Giants start off SIGNIFICANTLY BETTER IN 2011 than 2010. Their lineup wouldn't need jesus.
What are the downsides?
1-Brian Wilson has a great season though he usually lives on the edge--an injury or his just being a little bit off would hurt greatly. (Gotta like the guy, doing a Cowboy Bill Flett tribute)
2-Pat Burrell had a good reclamation year--providing many key hits, but was this a last gasp for him? Andres Torres has a very good year as the leadoff hitter, but was this his career year?
Otherwise I see Tejada a wash for Uribe. More hits, less homers. Both not great in the field but the Giants showed that their strikeout pitching staff makes up for their fielders having little range (albeit secondbase and center field.)
Of couse, deep staff or not, a pitching injury (see Adam Wainwright) derails most contenders hopes. After hearing how the Giants shouldn't even show up against Roy Halliday and Cliff Lee in the playoffs, should we be scared that they are both on the Phillies? Not really. The Phillies essentially traded Jason Werth for Cliff Lee--they better hope that Dominic Brown can come close to losing Werth's .300-30 hr output and protection of Ryan Howard. Otherwise the Braves, who almost won the division and played the Giants the toughest in the playoffs, will win the East.
Last year I picked Colorado to win the division and the Giants to win the wild card. I think the Rockies will be the NL wild card team. The Giants should get back to the World Series, but the Red Soxs are scary with Adrian Gonzalez--who is the 2nd best hitting first baseman and is moving from a lousy hitting park to a great on, joined by Carl Crawford (and Jacoby Ellsbury coming back.)
But in an era of me-me-me pro athletes, the Giants attitude is refreshing. I see them winning the pennant., and then who knows. Only thing sweeter that what happened last year is if the would have beaten the Yankees in the World Series.